X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-WThe X-Men (and Women) are back, in a non-stop, roller coaster ride of a movie, guaranteed to thrill the hearts of any fanboys (or girls), and to convert non-believers into fans.

It’s a challenge to sum up the story arcs of the mutant characters. There have been 5 X-Men movies, plus an “Origins” and standalone movie about Hugh Jackman’s wildly popular character, Wolverine, but here goes:

The X-Men are a team of mutant superheroes in the Marvel comic book universe. The basic concept of the X-Men is that under a cloud of increasing anti-mutant sentiment, Professor Xavier created a haven at his Westchester mansion to train young mutants to use their powers for the benefit of humanity, and to prove mutants can be heroes. Xavier recruited Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast, and Marvel Girl, calling them “X-Men” because they possess special powers due to their possession of the “X-gene,” a gene which normal humans lack and which gives mutants their abilities. Interestingly, the comic was partially inspired by the African-American civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The current film’s story is set in a dystopian future where huge robots called Sentinels, have nearly destroyed both mutants and their supporters. This time, the ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past, (as seen in “X-Men: First Class,”) to fight in an epic battle that could save our future. How do they do that? By sending Wolverine back to 1973 in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants. (Those of us of a certain age will be particularly amused by scenes from 1973, including a spot on performance from Mark Camacho, as Richard Nixon.)

The “X-Men” franchise have always had distinctive differences from other superhero comic-to-screen adaptations, with compelling storylines, spectacular special effects, and an impressive ensemble, and “Days” does not disappoint. Most surviving “mutents” return, including the ever dependable Patrick Stewart as the present day Professor Xavier, and James McAvoy as his 70s counterpart, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender, as the once and future (sometimes good guy, sometimes bad) Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde, Nicholas Holt as the younger Beast, and of course, Jackman as Wolverine. The always terrific Jennifer Lawrence returns, as the chameleon-like Raven/Mystique who may hold the fate of the world in her blue hands. New characters include Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage “Game of Thrones”), and Quicksilver, (Even Peters “Kick-Ass”), a time-bender, who has “Matrix-like” moves that will blow your mind. My hope is we will see more of him in the next installment, 2016’s “X-men: Apocalypse”.

The Bottom Line: “X-Men: Days of Future Past” deserves to be viewed on the biggest screen possible, in 3D digital projection. Those in the Sacramento area will want to see it in the Regal Natomas Marketplace’s new RPX Digital 3-D Theater. The film is a blast, but it also has extended action/comic-book humor, with many characters injured and killed, guns, explosions, fire, some graphic and disturbing images, some strong language, brief nudity and very revealing attire. Parents and grandparents should use caution with sensitive younger teens.

PG-13, for sequences of intense sci-fi violence, some suggestive material, nudity and language. 2 hr. 11 min.

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